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HT GIFA: Delhi NCR’s young stars are getting ready for their football festival

Football fever rises in the capital with more than 2000 teams already registered for the fourth season of SARE Homes HT GIFA

ht gifa Updated: Jul 27, 2017 16:48 IST
HT GIFA,Football,FIFA Under-17 World Cup
Young players featuring in HT GIFA are quite enthusiastic about the tournament and are raring to go.(HT Photo)

While cricket still remains the most popular sport in India, football -- which was earlier confined to select pockets across the country -- is getting more and more popular among youngsters now. Of late, the transformation in football’s fortunes has become more evident and it has a direct correlation with global tournaments coming to India, the rise in quality of national level competitions, and the huge fanbase for European leagues here.

With the FIFA Under-17 World Cup set to be held in India this year, football will be the buzz sport of the season. The fourth edition of the SARE HOMES HT GIFA, Delhi NCR’s biggest inter-locality football tournament for kids, which will be held the same time as the global extravaganza, is going to add to the football fever.

READ | La Liga and SARE Homes HT GIFA team-up to bring footballing action to Delhi-NCR

While the young players featuring in HT GIFA are quite enthusiastic about the tournament and are raring to go, their parents are not that far behind either. All of them are pleased that their children, instead of sticking to the screens (mobiles, video games and the likes) are working hard, preparing for the tournament.

The training, which has become very systematic, not just promotes fitness but also instils a lot of good qualities. Besides, with the advent of professional leagues across many sports in the country, more and more parents in India are warming up to the idea of letting their kids consider sports as a career option.

Career in sports

The opportunities have vastly increased in the recent years, supplemented by India’s performance at International competitions.

READ | HT GIFA Season 4: Great Indian football action to take over Delhi-NCR again

The sporting heroes -- from cricketers such as Virender Sehwag to Virat Kohli, the Phogat sisters, Sushil Kumar and Sakshi Malik from the wrestling arena, and badminton champions PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have all become household names. Youngsters, as well as parents, are getting inspired by their success stories.

“My son participated in the tournament last year and developed a keen interest in the sport,” said Pulkit Sharma. “He used to practice daily and the tournament provided him with the perfect platform to develop his interest in football and also improve his game. He wants to pursue football as his career and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I will support him throughout his training and I’m sure he’ll be successful.”

Rakhi Sharma, a mother of two, expressed similar sentiments.

“My son has been looking forward to the tournament all year,” elaborated Rakhi. “He could not participate last year as he missed out on the registration. I‘ve got him registered this year and he has already started preparing for the tournament. I’m glad he is playing a sport and not playing video games. It will improve his physical fitness and stamina. My younger son is also waiting for next year as he’ll be eligible for the junior division of the tournament then.”

READ | SARE Homes HT GIFA: Season four of the tournament is making Football great again!

SARE Homes HT GIFA is bigger this year with a collaboration with La Liga, the league where stars such as Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo feature. This season will also see a lot more football action compared to the previous editions.

With deadline for registrations coming up, teams are rushing to become part of the tournament. So far, more than 2000 teams from across Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida and different parts of Delhi have registered and more entires are pouring in. Seeing the enthusiasm and overwhelming response, the last date for registrations has been extended to July 31.

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 16:48 IST